U.S. emergency crude stockpiles fall to record low

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U.S. emergency crude stockpiles fell by 4.6 million barrels last week to the lowest level since May 1985, according to data released on Monday by the Energy Department.

The amount of crude oil held in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) fell to 469.9 million barrels in the week ended July 29, according to DOE data, following the smallest weekly drawdown since May.

US President Joe Biden in March set out a plan to release 1 million barrels per day (bpd) over six months from the SPR to combat high fuel prices, which have contributed to rising inflation.

U.S. gasoline prices are about 40 cents a gallon lower than they would have been without the sales, the White House said last week.

Since May, releases have averaged 880,000 bpd. Oil is sold to accredited oil companies through online auctions.

The DOE did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The DOE proposed a rule to return crude oil to SPR, allowing it to enter into contracts to purchase oil in future years at fixed, predetermined prices.

The administration believes that the plan will contribute to increasing domestic oil production. Refiner Valero Energy Chief Commercial Officer Gary Simmons said last week that he expects lower volumes to be released from the SPR in the future as demand forecasts have been lowered, adding that oil markets are fairly well balanced.